FIRE JOE MORGAN: Single-Subject Mini-Gallimaufry: Don Mattingly Edition


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Monday, December 31, 2007


Single-Subject Mini-Gallimaufry: Don Mattingly Edition

Hi, everyone. How are you. Good? Awesome. I'm good too. But enough small talk. I'd like to meta-discuss an email I got in some form or another from several persons who shall remain gallimaufry-nameless, after I posted this (in re: should Don Mattingly be inducted into the Hall of Fame of Baseball Players):

Don Mattingly gets into the Hall of Fame, I quit. Everything. I quit everything. He is nowhere close to being in the ballpark of being in the discussion of people who might possibly begin to be considered as potential people who might someday be on a long list of people who should be considered as people who might someday be considered to one day be part of the discussion of who are the players who maybe should be thought about as potential people who might one day be considered by the Committee to Discuss People Who Should Maybe Be Thought Of As Potential Hall of Famers Someday.

I will distill the emails I got into one general email, which went something like this:

Dear Ken,

You are a douche. Mattingly is awesome. Look at this [statistical evidence that shows that Don Mattingly was awesome.] Don Mattingly is at least as good as [man who is in the Hall of Fame]. Don't you think you should apologize to Don Mattingly, his parents, me, my friends, and everyone who has ever read your blog? I do. I think your post was a poorly-baked soufflé.

And for the record I don't even care that much about Don Mattingly qua Don Mattingly -- I just wanted to point out that you are wrong.


Let me say a couple things. First of all, .tv? Get a real email address, am I right? Second, nice use of "qua," hypothetical distilled amalgam man. Third, thanks for the soufflé mention -- food metaphor tag! And fourth, here's the thing:

Don Mattingly had some excellent baseballing years. But to me, a few excellent baseballing years does not get you into the Hall of Fame. It just doesn't. You have to be one of the very very best players in the game for a very long time. You have to be extraordinary. You have to get lucky and avoid injuries, yes, but once you avoid them, you have to excel, and you have to excel for a very long time. Mattingly just didn't play well enough, long enough. He just didn't. Neither, I think, did Jim Rice. Or Albert Belle. Jesus -- go look at Albert Belle's numbers from 1992 to 1998. The guy had a 193 OPS+ one year. He had 100 XBH in a season. He was a monster. He was to Mattingly what Mattingly was to Luis Polonia. But here's the thing: he was out of baseball at 33 because of injuries. So...he doesn't quite make it.

And yes, there's Kirby Puckett. (Shows you what some high-profile postseason moments do for you.) And yes, there's also like Phil Rizzuto and people like that whose numbers stink. But in my mind, you don't judge someone's candidacy based on "Who is the worst player currently in the HOF, and is Player X better than he?" If you judge any candidate for anything based on the lowest standards necessary for inclusion, you can keep finding reasons to include more and more people who might have one or two statistical categories that get their heads above those categorical waterlines, even if their overall package does not, and then you just keep re-centering the mean criteria lower and lower, and soon you have what Colin Cowherd would probably call a "Hall of Very Good." (And nobody wants Colin Cowherd to be right.)

In my opinion, you just base it on: do Player X's numbers show that he was one of the very best players in the game for a long time? Because there are a lot of guys who excel for 1-3 years and then kind of fade away. And the Hall should be reserved for the ones who don't fade away. Or, alternately, the guys whose careers were cut short for some tragic reason, but who were so insanely amazing at baseball -- so utterly and completely dominant -- that you cannot deny their outrageous shining brilliance. This is not Don Mattingly.

I would also point out that the criteria for inclusion should focus on the player's position, as well. It is a far tougher thing to be a dominant starting pitcher or great SS for ten years than it is to be a great first baseman. (If Pedro Martinez never threw another pitch after the 2002 season, it would have been hard to deny him entry.)

Anyway, this is almost certainly going to result in more emails from people who take umbrage at my nebulous reasoning. But I haven't found any dumb articles recently, and I had to do something to get rid of the increasingly shameless plugs for that poll thingy.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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posted by Unknown  # 11:59 PM
"Addition" instead of "Edition" in the post title was supposed to be an attempt at punnery, but I don't think it worked, so I'm changing it.
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